New Questions and Answers

Q. How do you cite a White Paper that was accessed online?

A. In general, such citations may follow the format for printed sources with the addition of a URL. The examples at CMOS 14.303–304 (16th ed.) can serve as a guide. Access dates are recommended only for undated documents. Sources consulted through commercial databases such as Westlaw or LexisNexis are treated like print sources but with the addition of the database name and any identification number. Please see CMOS 14.4–13 for additional considerations in citing electronic sources.

Q. How would you create a footnote for an entry in the following specialized dictionary that has a single author?

Aune, David E. The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

Would the footnote be

1. David E. Aune, The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric, s.v. “Pathos,” Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

A. That’s close! Please see the examples at CMOS 16, 14.247 (“Dictionaries and Encyclopedias”). Chicago puts parentheses around the publication information and treats the sub verbo entry as a substitute for a page number, at the end of the citation:

1. David E. Aune, The Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature and Rhetoric (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), s.v. “pathos.”

Q. Hey, has the Manual of Style tackled this conundrum yet? In Ira Gershwin’s lyric

I got plenty o’ nuttin’
and nuttin’s plenty for me

shouldn’t the second line require a double apostrophe (nuttin’’s)? Wouldn’t a single apostrophe create massive confusion the world over? I pass over the question of the idiomatic usage of nutting for nothing.

A. We can always count on our readers to flummox us now and then! But the lyric is creative enough; it’s probably best not to overdo the punctuation.

Q. In the June 2017 Q&A you state that when giving the ISBN number, the format may be identified as cloth, paper, or e-book. Does this imply that cloth is synonymous with hardcover? What if, like Hope and Crosby, a book is Morocco bound?

A. Yes, cloth is pretty much synonymous with hardcover. If a book is leather-bound, a publisher might choose to say so, of course (leaving Hope and Crosby out of it).

Q. Which of the following is correct to introduce a list?

1. My service includes:
2. My service includes

Should the colon be used after the word “includes”? From my understanding, a colon should not be used after a verb (or a preposition). Also, the sentence “My service includes” is not a complete sentence by itself.

A. You are right. “My service includes” is not grammatically complete, because the transitive verb “includes” is missing a direct object. If you wrote “My service includes the following,” a colon should follow. 

Q. I have a student who is using a letter from our archives. The letter is still under the ownership of the author, but the author is probably no longer living. How can my student use Chicago style to create a citation for a letter from the archives when the name of the author is being redacted by the student due to privacy laws?

A. Your student could cite the letter and write “[Redacted]” in place of the author name.

Q. We are publishing plays, and the dialogue is sometimes written to convey sound as well as sense. The playwright has “August 25th, 1989.” Is there any guideline preventing us from including the comma after the ordinal?

A. No, since this order of elements requires the year to be set off with commas. Regardless, the best way to write dialogue is the way you want it to be spoken rather than according to style guidelines for print. (We generally don’t expect people to speak in Chicago style.) If you want a slight pause (which most speakers would naturally supply before the year), write “August twenty-fifth, 1989.” Although that breaks Chicago’s style of using cardinal numerals, not spelled-out ordinals, in dates (August 25, 1989), spelling out “twenty-fifth” tells the actor how to read the number.

Q. Are pallbearer names and honorary pallbearer names supposed to be alphabetized by last name in a funeral service program?

A. There is no rule, but if the names are alphabetized, readers may assume that the people are equally important. If the names are out of order, readers may assume they are listed in order of honor or importance.

Q. I noticed that you always specify that the correct font for a typical subject is Roman. I never use Roman for anything. Normally I prefer Calibri. Would it be appropriate to follow the format of the subject in the Calibri font?

A. I wonder if you’ve misunderstood our use of roman. “Roman” isn’t a font. It’s just a way to refer to the lack of italics. Even if you use the Calibri font, you have to choose roman or italic Calibri. Maybe you’re thinking of Times New Roman, which is the name of a font, like Calibri. Times New Roman also comes in roman and italic (and bold, and small caps, etc.). We do recommend using a serifed font like Times New Roman or Palatino for manuscript preparation (on paper, that is—not for online display).

Q. I’m editing a report that frequently uses the phrase “be intentional about,” as in “the program is now intentional about [providing a certain service].” This seems awkward, but I’m not sure why. It also seems vague. I could use a second opinion.

A. Most jargon words and trendy phrases sound awkward and vague to those who aren’t soaked in that culture. It may begin to look better by the time you’re done editing. If the phrase is overused, of course, you could point that out and ask whether the writer was being intentional about it or would mind eliminating a few.

Q. I have a note for a summary of the countries that made airship purchases during a certain time frame, using a Jane’s publication to make this assessment. The relevant pages I referenced span the book—and as you can see below, I’m not just referencing a single page. Is there a better way to reference the fact that there are multiple pages, or is it better to leave all the pages listed, so people know exactly where the information came from?

1. Lord Ventry and Eugene Kolesnick, eds., Jane’s Pocket Book of Airships (New York: Collier Books, 1976), 16, 18, 23, 31, 38–45, 47, 49, 52–53, 56–57, 60–61, 80–82, 89–90, 96, 113, 117, 121, 146, 155, 159–161, 163, 167–168, 170.

A. Listing so many pages is not ideal. If the book has an index, you needn’t worry about citing only the book itself. If it doesn’t have an index, then for particular audiences or in certain contexts you might list all the page numbers. If you can organize the page numbers into smaller groups (perhaps by country), readers will be grateful.

Q. Looking for proper protocol, but will accept opinions. When assigning a century to a notable figure, do you use the year of birth? So if someone is born in 1493, is he a fifteenth-century or sixteenth-century scientist?

A. There is no “protocol”; it’s just common sense. A scientist born in 1493 would be a sixteenth-century scientist—unless this was a prodigy whose main life’s work was accomplished by the age of seven. Fl. (“flourished”) is sometimes used in front of the years of a person’s greatest work, but the best plan is to explain clearly when the person lived and worked.

Q. Dear Chicago experts, can you please help resolve this hyphenation issue? Should it be “worm composting expert” or “worm-composting expert”? Should it be “worm composting master” or “worm-composting master”? Thank you very much.

A. Use a hyphen; it makes it clear that the expert or master is not a worm.

June Q&A

Q. Apparently, the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual is opting for email over e-mail. I take it, then, that the 17th edition will also recommend Xray, Tshirt, Hbomb, Tbone steak. Don’t be ridiculous. Consistency requires the hyphen: e-mail.

A. Every good style manual contains exceptions that could be seen as inconsistencies but that are actually thoughtful adjustments for sense, readability, and usage. For instance, CMOS 7.85 (16th ed.) lists antihero but anti-inflammatory, coworker but co-op, midthirties but mid-July, promarket but pro-life. You will find that authoritative dictionaries like Merriam-Webster and American Heritage, as well as many fine newspapers, now also acknowledge or even prefer email.

Q. A colleague wants to use a hyphen in the phrase “Friday-afternoon lecture.” But isn’t this an overly rigid application of the phrasal adjective hyphenation rule in a case where it doesn’t apply? “Friday afternoon” is not a true phrasal adjective, but a temporal phrase. “Join me for Sunday morning brunch” is the same as saying, “Join me for brunch (on) Sunday morning.” Interested in your view on which is correct, and why.

A. “Noun + noun” phrases like “Friday morning,” where the first noun modifies the second noun, do qualify as phrasal adjectives. A hyphen increases readability, since Friday followed by a noun is not always part of a phrasal adjective: a Friday golf outing; a Friday birthday party. See section 2 of CMOS 16, 7.85 (“noun + noun, single function”).

Q. In CMOS (16th ed.), fig. 1.1, the ISBN is followed by a format designator in parentheses—the example given is “(cloth).” What are Chicago’s other standard format labels for other types of binding?

A. We use cloth, paper, and e-book.

Q. I am editing a work that refers many times to music recordings (albums). When using notes and bibliography style, I assume that the full citation to the album should be put in the first footnote, and in subsequent footnotes a short form is called for. What components are needed for a shortened citation for a record album?

A. CMOS is silent, so choose the elements that make the most sense to you. Performer and title, orchestra and title, composer and title, conductor and title—it needn’t be the same choice for every citation. Note that the first element in a short citation should be the element it’s listed under in your bibliography.

Q. In 14.181 (16th ed.) you only have “No volume number or date only,” but what about no issue number but volume only? What is the correct way of reference? Ecological Economics 82, 23-32 or Ecological Economics 82: 23-32?

A. A colon is more clear. In some cases the numbers in the citation would be confusing with a comma.

Journal Title 18, 23–32.
Journal Title 18, 6, 12.

Journal Title 18:23–32.
Journal Title 18:6, 12.

Q. If I am writing out foreign book titles followed by the English title in parentheses, should the English titles appear in italics or quotations?  

A. Chicago style writes the translation in plain text, no italics or quotes, no headline caps. Please see CMOS 16, 14.108:

Koniec sojuszu trzech cesarzy [The end of the Three Emperors’ League]

If the book was published under an English title, however, then put the English title in italics as you would any other published book (CMOS 16, 14.109):

Furet, François. Le passé d’une illusion. Paris: Éditions Robert Laffont, 1995. Translated by Deborah Furet as The Passing of an Illusion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).

Q. I’m writing a book with hundreds of direct quotations. One guy keeps saying “24/7.” Looks strange to write it “twenty-four/seven,” but that would be the standard CMOS rule, would it not?

A. Another CMOS rule is “if it looks odd, don’t do it.”

Q. Some compound adjectives are always hyphenated, even after the verb. Is worry-free hyphenated after the verb, as in this sentence: Audit trails and compliance tools make the process worry-free?

A. A compound formed with free as the second element is hyphenated both before and after the noun it refers to. (Whether such a phrase follows a verb is irrelevant.)  Please see CMOS 16, 7.85, section 3, under the word free:

toll-free number
accident-free driver
the number is toll-free
the driver is accident-free

Q. We published a book in 2014 and did not think it would need a second printing. The book has since sold out, and now we plan to issue a second printing in 2017. Is it overkill to include an impression line on the copyright page? We do not plan a third printing, but, of course, we were wrong the first time. We would have something like

17    2

in the second. Is it ever appropriate to indicate the second printing in a narrative form?

A. There are probably many editors who have found themselves in this position. It’s never inappropriate to add helpful information. “Second printing” or “2nd printing” would be crystal clear, but if you prefer to have an impression line, “17    2” would baffle most readers. To make a traditional second-impression line for a book published in 2017, write something like

21 20 19 18 17    2 3 4

Q. In Chicago style after how many words do you use a block quote?

A. Please see CMOS 16, 13.10 (“Choosing between Run-In and Block Quotations”): “In deciding whether to run in or set off a quotation, length is usually the deciding factor. In general, a short quotation, especially one that is not a full sentence, should be run in. A hundred words or more (at least six to eight lines of text in a typical manuscript) can generally be set off as a block quotation.”

Q. I’m currently copyediting a chapter in a contributed volume, where one of the authors quotes as follows: “that no purely third-person, theoretical proposal or model would suffice to overcome” “the conceptual gap between subjective experience and the brain.” My question concerns the closing double quotations marks and the opening double quotations marks that are placed next to each other. I think this looks rather clumsy. Could I put ellipsis points between two quotes if the latter quote actually comes before the first quote in the original source, as is the case here? Or should ellipsis points only be used if the original order of the quoted parts is retained?

A. Ellipsis points are an option only when quotes are in the correct order and fairly near each other. Putting even a little text between the two quotes would help: “that no purely third-person, theoretical proposal or model would suffice to overcome” the “conceptual gap between subjective experience and the brain.” But it might be best to completely reword or to paraphrase one of the quotes.

Q. What is the distinction between yeah, yea, and yay? Is each confined to a specific usage?

A. Dictionaries are terrific for looking up what words mean. I found all these words at Merriam-Webster’s free online dictionary.

Yay means “hooray”; rhymes with day
Yea means “yes” or “indeed”; familiar to many from translations of the Bible; often used in voting (“yea or nay”); rhymes with day
Yeah means “yes”; famously used by the Beatles (“She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah”); rhymes with pretty much not anything (bleah?).

Q. You advocate using the serial (Oxford) comma in all applications, correct? If so, I disagree. For your consideration: when omitting the comma does not alter the meaning and, more important, the flow of the sentence, it should be omitted (e.g., I became friends with Jim, Barbara and their aunt).

A. Although Chicago favors the use of the serial comma as a default style and would therefore put a comma after Barbara in your sentence, our guidelines are not meant to be applied “in all applications” without thought to meaning or usefulness. They are meant to be applied with judgment and flexibility. We have stated this in every edition since the first one in 1906, and we hammer on it constantly every chance we get. Sigh.